Choosing the right legal technology for your law firm is critical to its success. Legal tech partners can aid firms in embracing the fast pace of change in technology and meeting business goals. However, certain common mistakes arise when firms are seeking out and then managing relationships with those third-party vendors that should be avoided.

Being aware of the following five common mistakes can help you save time and ensure your software selection goes smoothly:

Failing to think about the future

Depending on the software you choose, your firm may be committing to up to 5-10 years with that system, making it extremely important to consider how your business needs may change in the future. Otherwise, you might make the mistake of adopting software that fits your immediate needs but is not scalable.
While preparing your requirements document, consider your firms’ direction, including recruitment plans, service development, and potential growth. Part of staying flexible means partnering with an innovative vendor that keeps up with emerging technologies. This type of forward-thinking vendor will help you stay competitive as your system evolves to align with your future business needs.

Not asking about additional fees

Beware of hidden costs for maintenance, support, and access to additional tools or services. Once your implementation is complete, you want to ensure your firm fully embraces your new software with easy access to on-going support for the whole team without incurring hefty additional costs for upgrades, integrations, customisations, and modules that may be required down the line.

Opting for low cost over ROI

One of the most common mistakes made when choosing software is settling for a solution based on the lowest initial price quoted to you by vendors. Make sure to calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) over the intended lifecycle of your software.

TCO can include lost opportunity throughout the life of the agreement, cost overruns on implementation, maintenance, training costs, integration, customisations, lost productivity, and, in the worst cases, terminating an agreement early and going back out to the market. Be mindful that, integration expenses, in particular, can add up over the lifetime of your solution depending on how frequently upgrades or additional applications are needed.

Project what your firms’ needs may be in 10 or 15 years and see what the software costs will increase with an expanded number of users, processes, or services. Considering the cost of selection and apply it against the vendors’ roadmap of development. Ask yourself, “Do I feel confident my firm can use this system for the next 15 years?” That is the test. Thinking ahead into the future when making a software decision will help you choose a product that can be used long term.

Prioritising technical requirements over business requirements

Often during their selection process firms will put equal or even greater priority on technical requirements than on business requirements. As a result, they often end up with systems that run smoothly but do not address the business issues that they were meant to.

Although your IT department will call the project a success, you may end up with actual users bypassing your new system and performing mission-critical functions manually, rather than using the system that was meant to automate this. You must remember that practice management software is purchased to solve a business problem, and whilst technical requirements should not be ignored, they should be supporting your software selection decision, not leading.

Not asking the vendor to outline their options for continual support

Even after you roll out your new practice management software and conducted employee training, do not consider the job complete. For software to be truly successful and drive long-term business goals, a robust support system must be put in place.

Support can play a huge role in whether software is a success or a failure for your firm. These are the three important elements of a successful support system:

  • Helpdesk support: Be sure to note the support hours for all software vendors you are considering, as well as what support options are available. Can you get phone support, or is everything done by email or ticketing system? If you will be using a ticketing system, what is the anticipated response time for a request?
  • Account management: As part of your contract, you need to ensure access to a dedicated account manager, whose role is to step in and take charge of the partnership and your collaboration. Access to such a resource is critical, as one of the main ingredients of successful long-term partnerships is a high-level collaboration between the firm and their account manager. A good account manager will correctly identify your firms’ needs and will simultaneously be your go-to person and your advocate when it comes to ensuring the software vendor delivers to your expectations.
  • User groups and software reviews: Ask your selected vendor whether they conduct regular software reviews and user groups. This is an important element of support, as user groups will offer valuable learning opportunities for you and your teams, including:
    – Useful tips, tricks, and best practices to enhance your use of the software
    – Insight into how other firms are using the software and strategies that you can back to your own firm to promote greater results
    – Sneak peek at the new and upcoming features that may help solve some of your challenges coming directly from the team that knows the software best